The Sunday Mail
SOUTH AFRICAN hip-hop artiste Cassper Nyovest performs in Harare on September 16 at the Glamis Arena.
When the poster advertising that gig came out, there was an uproar. The poster features non-hip-hop musicians, namely Jah Prayzah, Freeman, Soul Jah Love and Winky D as the main supporting acts, with their faces splashed on the poster.
Tehn Diamond, Junior Brown and Ti Gonz, the supporting hip-hop acts, just have their names in small print.
This angered the hip-hop fraternity and there has been a lot of noise on various social media platforms.
However, considering that hip-hop as a genre has never really managed to make a significant impact on the local music scene, these cats should not be complaining but sharpening their craft for this rare showcase.
Tehn Diamond, Junior Brown and Ti Gonz — the finest hip-hop acts in the country right now – should grab this opportunity and ensure that they show the expected multitudes at the gig that they too deserve to have their faces plastered all over the poster.
Jah Prayzah, Winky D and Soul Jah Love were not born superstars — they toiled for it. All of them had to beg to perform for free at some point in their lives, opened gigs when the venues would be empty until promoters realised that they were serious about their craft.
This business of trying to be overnight superstars — using the number of years that one has been in the game instead of the work that they put in everyday to enhance their craft is flawed. One can be in the game for decades but as long as they are not focused enough or do not hustle hard enough — there is no way they will get to the top. There have been moments when hip-hop artistes have shown massive potential and just when everyone believes a breakthrough is on the horizon, they somehow lose the plot.
Over the years, the genre has flattered to deceive and one of the weakest links of most of the artistes in it is that they lack social relevance as they say their sound is “for an international audience”.
That being said, the very same artistes that usually attract paltry audiences at their gigs are very vocal when it comes to being involved in big gigs — some demand to be viewed as equals to hotshots in dancehall. However, when it comes to the commercial side of music promotion, some feel the promoter is justified as he would want to attract numbers.
At purely hip-hop shows held by the likes of Shoko Festival, Cassper backed by hip-hop artistes gets a crowd of about 1 000 — whereas the likes of Jah Prayzah and crew bring in more numbers as was the case when KO came through last year at the Belgravia Sports Club, with well over 3 000 people in attendance.
To get a better understanding of the grievances of the hip-hop fraternity, we spoke to Zim Hip-Hop Awards founder–cum-music promoter Aldrian “Beefy” Harrison.
“This has always been an issue and it will always be unless addressed the right way. Fair and fine, the promoter may have justification by saying most hip-hop artistes don’t pull crowds but have they been given a chance to prove themselves?” remarked Harrison.
“Promoters should also understand that this could also be a big break for artistes in the hip-hop genre. Obviously artistes that aren’t from the hip-hop genre will add flavour to the event but let’s not forget sometimes in an event you are looking for good entertainers, not always crowd pullers.
“I think the pulling factor in this case is Cassper Nyovest. So no matter who else you add, they will contribute a small percentage. I feel the event could have added many more hip-hop acts and a few others from other genres. This improves local hip-hop in every way. But as well, the headliner is hip-hop, so supporting acts should also have other genres involved.”